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Archive for August, 2008

Second parcel tax lawsuit in Alameda

A second lawsuit was filed Monday in Alameda County Court against Measure H, the school parcel tax that passed with the support of just over two-thirds of Alameda voters in early June.

The first suit, filed last week by Pleasanton-based lawyer David Brillant on behalf of George J. Borikas is thought to have been supported and funded by several dozen local businesses. The second was filed by the high-powered law firm, Reed Smith, on behalf of local developer, John Beery.

School Board President Bill Schaff:

We’re sad to see another lawsuit. We would like to try to find some common ground with the business community…we still don’t have a state budget, we know we’ll still have an underfunding issue and we have to find some resolution that is good for our kids and that also can work for the business community.

You can look at both cases here, by entering the case numbers. Borikas is VG08405316 and Beery is RG08405984.

Posted on Thursday, August 28th, 2008
Under: Development, Island Life, Parcel tax, Prop. 13, Schools | 3 Comments »

Alameda’s Measure H lawsuit. Devil details.

As you have likely heard (Michele Ellson‘s got a link to the lawsuit) attorney David Brillant has filed suit on behalf of George Borikas in Alameda County Court against Measure H, the Alameda school parcel tax which passed in June 2008.

The suit alleges that Measure H violates the portion of California’s Education Code which stipulates that school parcel taxes must be ‘uniform’ and allows for seniors and people with disabilities to be exempted from them. Here’s the California code:

50079. (a) Subject to Section 4 of Article XIIIA of the California Constitution, any school district may impose qualified special taxes within the district pursuant to the procedures established in Article 3.5 (commencing with Section 50075) and any other applicable procedures provided by law.
(b) (1) As used in this section, “qualified special taxes” means special taxes that apply uniformly to all taxpayers or all real property within the school district, except that “qualified special taxes” may include taxes that provide for an exemption from those taxes for taxpayers 65 years of age or older or for persons receiving Supplemental Security Income for a disability, regardless of age.
(2) “Qualified special taxes” do not include special taxes imposed on a particular class of property or taxpayers.

And here’s the complaint, which talks about the requirement that parcel taxes be ‘uniform’ and, too, raises what seems to be the issue of seniors or people with disabilities having to actively opt out of the tax:

The qualified special tax set forth in the Election Order and in Measure H, as approved by the registered voters of the District, is not consistent with the uniformity requirement as set forth in Government Code Section 50079. Additionally, the special tax set forth in the Election Order and in Measure H contains exemptions from the qualified special tax yet imposes additional requirements for taxpayers to meet the exeptions that are not contained in Government Code Section 50079. For these reasons, the District’s qualified special tax against residential, commercial and industrial property, as set forth in Measure H, are not a valid or lawful lien on the real property of Borikas herinabove described, and any attempt by defendants to collect unpaid assessments from Borikas would be unlawful and improper.

For some background on why districts rely on parcel taxes as a way of funding education, I found this useful and, too, at least one area district, Albany, has a parcel tax (passed in 2005) with a structure similar to Alameda’s: it’s $250 per parcel and $.05 per square foot nonresidential. Other local parcel taxes with variable levels of taxation include Emeryville, Berkeley, and Piedmont. A quick look at some area parcel taxes and how they handle exemptions for seniors/people with disability/low income people, reveals they operate much like Alameda’s. Here’s San Francisco, Oakland, and Emeryville.

Posted on Sunday, August 24th, 2008
Under: Parcel tax, Prop. 13, Schools | 4 Comments »

Measure H suit. Who is behind it?

It’s looking ever-more-likely that a suit will be filed against Measure H, the school parcel tax that passed in June in a community effort to preserve for Alameda children the level of service they’re currently getting from our district schools.

The word is that this group—please return my phone calls, Alamedans for Fair Taxation!—has raised $100,000 for legal fees, hiring David Brillant, of Randick O’Dea & Tooliatos to represent them. What boggles, is that aside from the owners of Pillow Park Plaza and Pauline’s Antiques, no one has stepped up to acknowledge their financial and philosophical commitment to this lawsuit. Where are the letters to the editor? The public statements of opposition to Measure H? I’m all for stepping up and fighting for what you believe, for making a case, taking a stand. But I say publicize your names, explain your thinking, be quoted in the paper, put your name on the project, put signs in your windows, “No to Measure H!” All of you.

Posted on Thursday, August 21st, 2008
Under: Island Life, Parcel tax, Schools | 5 Comments »

A legal challenge to Measure H?

Hello. So the buzz out there, both in reality and in blogland, is that this group, Alamedans for Fair Taxation, has raised some money to challenge Measure H, the school parcel tax that passed with over two thirds of the vote (parcel taxes in California don’t just require a simple majority, they require two of every three peoples’ support). I left messages before I went on vacation over Alamedan’s for Fair Taxation’s main office number, and I left another today. I’m looking forward to finding out who is in this group, how much they’ve raised, and by what legal standard they hope to challenge Measure H. Stay tuned.

Posted on Wednesday, August 20th, 2008
Under: Parcel tax, Prop. 13, Schools | 1 Comment »

Life on the Island: Leaf blowers, no!

This week’s Life on the Island column is about the noise and particle pollution of leaf blowers. Read it in whole (or, in part, if you prefer) here. [Ed. note: The Alameda Journal blog is officially on vacation until August 20, but you can find the online Alameda Journal here---or read what other bloggers are saying at Alamedans.]


Past “Life on the Island” columns
July 29, 2008: Backyard wells and conserving water
July 22, 2008: Out and about on a home-town date
July 15, 2008: Changes in school leadership offers new opportunities
July 8, 2008: Getting an education in civics Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, August 5th, 2008
Under: gardening, Going Green, Island Life, Nuisances | 2 Comments »

Alameda Journal blog on vacation

The Alameda Journal blog is on vacation. Look for news on the Alameda Journal‘s home page. Or you can check out Alamedans, to see what other local bloggers are up to. See you mid-August.

Posted on Tuesday, August 5th, 2008
Under: Off-Island Life | No Comments »